Well, not so much new as familiar. Our over-Wintering sheep have gone. The transporter came - very impressive with three layers all worked hydraulically. They were reluctant to go in at first but - like sheep - once one had taken the plunge they all wished to follow immediately and clogged up the system!
As the farmer said, it was time for them to go. They had become restless, jumping on to the wall tops and knocking down stones. Yesterday, when I walked with Tess, I found that three had jumped over the beck, cleared the fence and were gallivanting about in next door's fields, kicking up their back legs and full of the joys of Spring. A shaken feed bag had them back by the same route in no time.
So they have gone - the Swaledales (the majority) - they are the ones with horns, a black face and a white nose - are going back to high on the Swaledale fells above the Buttertubs ( large holes in the ground, mainly limestone-lined, where farmer's wives used to put their butter in the days before freezers). What is going to happen to the Texels I don't know - there are only a few of these - you will see the big girl in the photo with a white face - she is enormous.
The Swaledales are hefted sheep - born on the fells they learn where their land is and they pass this information on to their offspring, so that they never stray far from their own land. Like the swallows coming back to their nest, this is another of Nature's miracles.
I have put on a photograph of the sheep going upstairs in the lorry. As well as showing you how the lorry is constructed it also shows that other feature of the Swaledale sheep - they do not lose their tails. Most sheep have their tails docked in infancy but Swaledales keep theirs for warmth. It does create problems as the tail area is often subject to maggot infestation. (Sorry about that).
So now our fields are empty and the grass can grow ready for a Summer input of cattle and some silage. It is always sad to see the sheep go, although they have left a good crop of bits of wool hanging on trees and hedges - I sometimes wish I was a spinner and could put it to good use.